tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 16, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
captured and talking. a top taliban leader is nabbed in a top secret raid. why this is a big deal for the u.s. tea time. the republican party comes face-to-face with the politica rebellion on the right. fire and ice. olympic organizers dealing with snow, warmth, crowd and glitches. and tonight, why the flame is in the news. on ice, tonight our profile of the american men's figure skater who really wants to be different and really wants to be the star of these games.
also tonight, more on reports that a common over the counter drug might help fight breast cancer. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. we begin tonight with news that could mean a major advance. the taliban's top military commander has been captured. it was a secret raid, a joint operation carried out by pakistani and american intelligence forces. it happened in karachi in afghanistan. the number two ranked man under the taliban founder and associate of the still-at-large osama bin laden. this news comes as american forces are grinding forward with a big new offensive. we begin our reporting tonight
with you are chief foreign correspondent richard engel. >> reporter: it's easy to hide in the streets of karachi, home to 18 million. the taliban's military commander mulla baradar was living openly here, apparently feeling immune to capture. that ended last week in a rare joint cia/pakistani operation. there are no known photographs of baradar, but he directed the war in afghanistan. today u.s. nato troops met on the fourth day of offensive. baradar could provide valuable intelligence. >> mulla baradar would provide very valuable information about the scores of other people who work for the taliban movement. >> reporter: u.s. and pakistani
intelligence have cooperated before, together arresting 9/11 plotters. pakistan has been accused of sheltering the top taliban leaders, offering up just middle men. >> the fact they've taken out mullah baradar, so they are going for the real guys rather than the little guys. >> reporter: but baradar is unlikely to know the whereabouts of osama bin laden. former pakistan intelligence colonel imman trained baradar with thousands of other fighters in the 1980s. he says the arrest will not defeat the taliban. >> reporter: analysts say the operation in karachi deals a psychological blow to the taliban, showing no one is immune to arrest, even in
pakistan. the arrest is not, however, expected to have an immediate impact on american troops fighting in afghanistan. today, a u.s. marine was killed by roadside bomb. brian? >> richard engel in our london newsroom tonight. richard, thanks. in washington, president obama today announced more than $8 billion in federal loan guarantees that will pave the way for the first nuclear power plant built in the u.s. in 30 years. he's calling the project a job creator and a step toward helping control climate change, but his critics are openly wondering what it is he's up to. here is our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson. >> reporter: the laen guarantees announced today by president obama are the start of what many see as america's nuclear energy renaissance. >> to meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need to increase our supply of nuclear power. it's that simple. >> reporter: the $8.3 billion
loans will help pay for two nuclear reactors in burke, georgia, the first new nuclear power plant in this country in nearly three decades. the obama administration says the plant will create 3,500 construction jobs, 800 permanent jobs and provide power to 1.4 million people without the carbon footprint from burning oil, coal or natural gas. unlike the alternatives of wind and solar, nuclear power is an on-demand energy source, available 24 hours a day. >> what can nuclear power be used for? >> reporter: david rat cliff is ceo of southern company that will build the reactors. >> nuclear is essential for this nation in we are going to provide a secure and safe and reliable form of electricity and supply of electricity to this economy. >> reporter: but some americans are haunted by the partial meltdown at pennsylvania's three mile island plant in 1979. and the chernobyl disaster in the former soviet union that killed 56 people and led to thousands of cancer deaths. then there is the issue of what
to do with the radioactive waste. america doesn't have a permanent solution. >> there are reactors across this country that have tons of waste just sitting there, waiting for something to half. >> how are you, sir? >> reporter: the administration insists today's nuclear power is safe. >> we feel very confident about the safety of the technology. a lot of advances have been made. this is a new technology. it will be thoroughly reviewed by the nuclear regulatory commission. >> reporter: a controversial first step in creating an america that runs on clean energy. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. the president will take on another tough subject on thursday. the massive budget deficit. he will sign an executive order setting up a bipartisan commission charged with finding ways to cut it. erskine boles of north carolina who was president clinton's chief of staff and former wyoming republican schnoor alan simpson will lead that effort. our huge national debt is one of the issues driving the tea party
movement, and while they are out to be a political threat to both established political parties, today some of the activists who have been gathering under the tea party banner came face-to-face with the republican powers that be. nbc's andrea mitchell has more on this from our washington newsroom tonight. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. from coast to coast, it is a national movement, loosely organized, by universally angry at big government. today some of them came to the belly of the beast. they are mad as you know what and say they are not going to take it any more. from washington state to washington, d.c. >> can you hear us now? >> reporter: tea partyers are mobilizing against government spending and politics as usual, today showing up at republican national head quarters at the vintation of nervous party leaders. >> i don't want the gop to co-op this movement. we are about our own issues,
fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets. we want true conservatives in office that are going to be held accountable to the people that hired them and put them there. >> reporter: by definition, the tea party is not an organized political party. most are fiscal conservatives, and while many love sarah palin, they say they don't want a leader. nor are they automatic allies for republicans. >> i've run into some incredibly independent leaders and i have every faith that they will remain independent. >> the message to the republican party is clearly, you need us more than we need you. >> reporter: they are the people who showed up in nashville ten days ago. voters who helped republican scott brown win his upset victory in massachusetts. some are ron paul libertarians like his son ronde paul. >> i think we are close to that point where we will pay a price if we don't get our government under control. >> reporter: in arizona,
supporters of talk show host j.d. hayworth challenging john mccain. >> you could say there are two john mccains, the one who cam opinions like a conservative and the one who legislates like a liberal. >> reporter: radical fringe groups swept up in a growing political storm. >> the largest most diversified, most energetic small government grass roots movement i've seen in all of my years in politics. >> reporter: people in today's meeting said the republican national chairman michael steele promised to stay out of the way and work with the tea party group when they can agree on candidates, even if that is not all the time. brian? >> andrea mitchell in our washington newsroom tonight. andrea, thanks, as always. back to these olympic winter games going on here in vancouver. here is where the medal count stands. as you'll see, team usa is on top right now with a total of eight. home team canada in fourth place overall. now the organizers of these games, however, are facing criticism on a number of fronts.
things both within and beyond their control. they are taking heat for the warmth, for the snow, even the flame. nbc's ron mott is just outside the olympic calderon downtown here which is a controversy in its own right. ron, good evening. >> reporter: it is indeed. these beautiful flames behind me are quite the draw. unless you are a consideration member of the news media as we are, you can't get that close to them. so a lot of folks are fired up about that. there's still plenty of fun in these games, but the good times are rolling to a hard stop with thousands of fans who met disappointment of one vitor another. >> he scores! >> reporter: from broken-down ice resurfacing machines to canceled event tickets. >> the course was more bumpy than anybody expected. >> reporter: to lindsey vonn's take on the rough skiing. >> are you feeling snake bit? >> reporter: the vancouver organizer committee is taking heat even for the heat.
melting snow and olympic goodwill. >> it's a little like lost luggage. it's not whether it gets lost, it's how you deal with it. >> reporter: outside the olympic calderon, fans are dealing with frustration of keepsake pictures focused on chainlink fencing. >> that's one of the main draws down here. would be nicer if we could be beside it. >> reporter: at whistler, more postponements and training cancellations because of snowstorms. the opposite problem found at cypress mountains where straw bales used to build up snow started sinking. >> there are three ice-prepping machines and none have been able to get the surface of the ice in the proper condition. >> reporter: in the past two days, men's speed skating was slowed to a standstill because of poor ice conditions, further complicated by the environmentally-friendly machines used in place of the tried and true zam bony that kept breaking down a zamboni is being brought in from calgary. yet for all the problems encountered so far, canadians
are still in a celebratory mood after capturing their first gold medicine qualify in three olympics they hosted. some potential good news tonight. organizers say tomorrow though they'll announce plans to give the public better access to this beautiful calderon. >> sometimes you've got to have a zamboni. ron mott here with us downtown vancouver tonight. thanks for that. when "nightly news" continue once this tuesday evening, could there be yet another use for aspirin in life? the story in health news that's getting talked about late today. >> he is one of america's best. [ male announcer ] we speak car. sure, but do we speak hybrid? yes, we do. and we can say 700 miles on a single tank and epa-estimated 41 mpg city and all the words stick because they're true. we speak the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in america.
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a story you might just start hearing about late in the day today in the news. a suggested link between aspirin and the preventn of breast cancer. we know about aspirin's benefits and qualities as a blood thinner in terms of stroke treatment, heart health, but this would be a new role. we are joined by our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman. before people run out to the stores, what is the benefit shown here? >> reporter: this is a long study. the nurses study which has 4,000 women in it. women who had been diagnosed with early breast cancer and who just happen to be taking aspirin, somewhere between two and five days, had a 50% reduction in dying of the breast cancer. they didn't look at cause and effect.
does aspirin prevent breast cancer, but the question is perhaps, does aspirin change the environment of bad cells, sort of making the neighborhood better? through that anti-inflammation property, frankly make the prognosis better for women. >> we never want to quash anything that affects hope, but that sounds almost anecdotal. what do we really know? >> reporter: it is not anecdotal, but is observational. there is no proof taking aspirin prevents breast cancer, but if you've been diagnosed and you're on aspirin for another reason, it may be one extra benefit, and frankly, a reason to sleep better at night. a lot more around this anti-inflammatory stuff, but if you're on aspirin and tolerating it and you had a diagnosis of breast cancer, this is good news. >> that is a positive bottom line. thanks, nancy, for coming by. on wall street, investors came back from a long weekend in the mood to buy. the dow was up 170 points.
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rare footage of a massive mudslide in italy that literally split the side of a hill. mudslides, several others were triggered by heavy rains in the same region of southern italy. no one was killed but a few hundred had to leave their homes to escape the danger of the river of mud. funeral services today for john murtha the powerful chairman of the house appropriations committee. from his death earlier this month. former president clinton and house of representatives pelosi were there gathered to pay their respects in pennsylvania. he was a decorated marine, a vietnam combat veteran. he brought millions over the years back to his district.
mourners flew into john p. murtha airport, after all. he was 77 years old. a new analysis of the earthquake in haiti confirms what a lot of us thought when we arrived there. by one measure it is the most destructive natural disaster a single nation has ever endured. with as many as 250,000 deaths, the quake claimed more lives as a percentage of the population than even the indonesian tsunami in 2004. cost of the damage estimated at a staggering $13.2 billion. that's so far. one positive note of recovery from there, american airlines said today it will resume commercial flights to and from haiti starting this friday. >> this is mardi gras, fat tuesday in new orleans which only represents the continuation of the party which started when the saints won the super bowl. since weather is a story
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beautiful place on this beautiful day. and about these olympic games, some might say the hardest position toned up in at the olympics is fourth. you're just close enough to see the shine on those medals out of reach. evan lysacek saw that four years ago. for him it's been an unlikely journey. if stunning athletic prowess could ever be reduced to simple common sense, evan lysacek should probably never have ended up here. through sheer will he is on the run for the gold medal in men's figure skating. what is the difference in your sport between confidence and
cockiness? and which are you? >> i know i've trained and i'm ready. that's where my confidence comes from, not that i'm so naturally gifted i can just go out there and do it. my confidence comes from preparation. >> reporter: as an 8-year-old in illinois, lysacek stepped on the ice with visions of playing hockey for the chicago blackhawks one day. >> my parents were very into sports and had my two sisters and i playing a different sport every day of the week. >> reporter: turns out hockey wasn't a perfect fit, but in skates his grandmother bought him, she always loved the ice capades, he learned to fly. >> skating gave me that ability to go faster and feel the wind in my face. >> reporter: lysacek stood out, and not in a way that is an advantage in this sport. it's far easier to spin through the air with a low center of gravity. >> i would say the average height for a male skater is 5'5" and 5'8", and i'm 6'2". with my skates on almost 6'5".
instead of hiding it and trying to look like the other guys that are out there, i'm trying to accentuate it and use it to my advantage. >> reporter: under the watchful eye of legendary coach frank carroll, the 24-year-old lysacek willed himself to the pinnacle of this sport. winning the world championships last march in dramatic fashion in his hometown of los angeles. >> what a performance! >> reporter: lysacek is acutely aware of the public profession of his sport, flamboyant, full of ruffles and sequins. he cultivates a careful image of masculinity, no detail of his run for a gold medal is left to chance. even he admits some of it gets tedious, down to picking out the music for his long program "shehezod." did you consider zz top, the
jonas brothers? >> i'm not a huge classical music buff. i was watching orchestras perform on dvds for hours. you're right. it was boring at first. >> he'll take the ice here as the reigning world champion, and he'll tell you it's cold comfort. >> in skating you can win once, go back out feel on top of the world and fall down. i've been through the ups and downs. it's humbling. i'm not unbeatable. there is no skater out there that's unbeatable. >> a quick viewers' guide to the skating tonight, and this is one way they get you to watch, evan lysacek is scheduled to skate at the end of a crowded field tonight. we have profiles of dozens of the american athletes all on our website nightly.nbc.com. also primetime olympic coverage